You’d be forgiven for missing the “big” news out of the ACC offices on Thursday morning, since this is not the sort of thing we’re regularly banking on the Syracuse Orange to be involved in. No offense to Dino Babers or anyone involved with the program. It’s just tough to imagine SU football spending a large amount of time in Charlotte for the league’s championship game, which will now be held in the city every year through 2030.
So many amazing #ACCFCG moments have happened at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. What’s YOUR favorite? #ACC #ACCFootballICYMI – the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game will be played in Charlotte through the 2030 season: https://t.co/k6XmgquV42 pic.twitter.com/IWq6HPMkbO
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) April 5, 2018
“What’s my favorite ACC Championship Game moment from Charlotte only?” There are so few to choose from, but I’d probably go with either the FSU-Georgia Tech game or the Clemson-UNC matchup. Both of those had some fireworks, I suppose.
Many outside the “traditional” ACC footprint have done their fair share of complaining about the Carolina-centric nature of the league’s championships, and with good reason. The good ol’ boys spent the last two years bitching about playing the basketball title game in Brooklyn, though that will be rectified by at least the next two heading back to North Carolina (in Charlotte and Greensboro, respectively).
But for football, Charlotte does sort of make the most sense.
Look at who’s participated in the game since its inception in 2005. Virginia Tech (six), Florida State (five), Clemson (five) and Georgia Tech (four) make up 20 of a possible 26 berths. FSU’s the only one of those four schools to sit more than four hours from Charlotte, but ‘Noles fans have proven over time that they’ll happily travel to see the team.
Of the other teams in the conference, most are also reasonably close, too. Duke, NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forest are a short drive away. Virginia isn’t that far either, while Louisville and Pittsburgh are slightly closer than Tallahassee. Miami, Syracuse and Boston College are the only schools with a massive distance between them and Charlotte, however they’ve combined for just three ACC title game berths (two for BC, one for Miami).
This is different from the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, where it’s a 15-team annual event that is best served rotating around and stopping in hubs like New York and Washington D.C. regularly to cater to the large collections of local alums for all schools. For football, TV’s still king. But in-person attendance at these conference championship games do create revenue as well. Plus, the league would like to avoid the embarrassment of quarter-full stadiums. That’s how you end up in Charlotte, where attendance has regularly been recorded above 60,000 fans, more often than not.
Really, the only major drawback to Charlotte is the fact that this just hammers home what was said around the ACC’s initial actions toward North Carolina House Bill 2 (HB2, aka the “bathroom bill”). The partial repeal didn’t necessarily erase every issue with the law, or the state’s abilities to revisit similar actions at a later date. These facts haven’t seemed to faze the ACC, the NBA or the NCAA, who were quick to jump back into the state shortly after the repeal was announced last year and public opinion deemed the ordeal “resolved.”
But that aside, Charlotte is about as much of a central location as you’ll find for ACC football. There are other, NFL-sized stadiums within the footprint, though none serves as the same sort of middle ground as Charlotte does. That’s the advantage North Carolina-based sites will always have in this league — at least until the membership of the conference fundamentally shifts, or the balance of power moves decidedly away from its current placement either directly northward (Pitt/UL/BC/Syracuse) or southward (Miami/FSU).